Clemson's Dabo Swinney speaks to local players at Sportsvisions high school football awards luncheon

COLUMBUS, Ga - Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney will soon begin practice with his team for their shot in the College Football Playoffs against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day. But the former Crimson Tide walk-on spent Wednesday afternoon in Columbus speaking to local high school players and coaches.

Swinney was the featured speaker during the 10th annual Sportsvisions Columbus Valley Area High School Football Award luncheon. He spent more than an hour describing his journey to the top of college football as inspiration to those in attendance.

"It's a great opportunity. I appreciate the invite," Swinney said. "I love the game of football, and it's great to see student-athletes who have the opportunity to be honored for the hard work and dedication that they've put into their craft. It's a blessing to be here."

Swinney grew up in Pelham, Alabama and was a walk-on wide receiver for the Crimson Tide. After being given a chance to play, Swinney impressed his coaches enough to earn a scholarship, and lettered on three Crimson Tide teams, including the 1992 National Championship team. He told the crowd that if he can go from walk-on to National Championship coach, anyone can accomplish their goals with the right attitude and effort.

"There are three kinds of people," Swinney said.

"There's those who make it happen, there's those who watch it happen and there's those who wake up at noon and say, ‘What the heck just happened?' "

Swinney also took a minute to take a playful jab at Sportsvisions co-founders D.J. Jones and Dale Williams, after noting the three previous keynote speakers were Kirby Smart, Nick Saban and Mark Richt.

"Guess you had to go to the bottom of the barrel huh," Swinney said with a laugh. "Who y'all getting to come next year?"

Local coaches and players were impressed with Swinney's message and the annual ceremony.

"I think this is one of the greatest things I've been involved with since I came here," said Jamey DuBose, who took home Coach of the Year honors for leading the Central Red Devils to the Alabama 7A semifinals. "When you get the opportunity to promote young talent and promote what's going on with our kids each and every day, it's an outstanding thing. It's a first-class event."

Below is a list of award winners:
Coach of the Year:
Jamey DuBose - Central
Student Athlete of the Year (Al.)
John Curtis - Callaway
Frank Lumpkin Jr. Gridiron Award
Jacobi Cunningham - Carver
Isiah Crowell Offensive Player of the Year
Justyn Ross - Central
Community Service Award
Forrest B. Johnson
Outstanding Player of the Year
Travon Matthews - Marion County
Student Athlete of the Year (Ga.)
Phillip Adams - Columbus
Wallace Davis Special Teams Award
Andres Espinoza - Northside
Outstanding Defensive Player Award
Caleb Johnson - Northside
Outstanding Offensive Player Award
Montez Crowe - Troup
Sportsvisions Coach On The Rise
Michael Woolridge - Hardaway
Chris Kirksey - Marion County
Middle School Player of the Year
Jemeil Johnson - Fort Middle School

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